THE BLOG
03/10/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated May 10, 2014

Out of the Box

Out of the box. Like so many expressions, there's gold in it! This one comes from a famous puzzle, where in order to solve it one had to extend the lines beyond the artificial boundary created by the puzzle. The boundaries are psychological. Wow! That's food for thought!

How many boundaries in our lives are psychological? How many boundaries are artificial? I would guess most of them. There's another expression that's the antithesis of "out of the box"; the "comfort zone." I've been thinking how these expressions often dictate what we do in our lives, in other words, we become so content in our "comfort zone" that we rarely "think out of the box." And what are we missing? A whole lot of life!

I picked my granddaughter up from nursery school yesterday afternoon and she told me on the way home that her father had made her breakfast for dinner the night before -- eggs, bacon and pancakes. She was thrilled because it was NOT dinner. I told her I prefer dinner for breakfast, leftovers from the night before. You could almost see the wheels turning in her little head. "Dinner for breakfast." How out of the box is that? When she told me that was silly, I told her there was no difference between breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. She thought about it during the drive home and then told me what she'd really like to have is macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Why not? I'm not sure her parents are going to be all that thrilled with our conversation, but it was out of the box.

Several years ago, a friend and I traveled to Bali. Her son had surfed at Uluwatu and told his mother that it was considered to be one of the best places to surf in the world, certainly in Bali. When we arrived in Bali, the first thing we did was go to a local restaurant. My friend looked out the window at all of the motorbikes lined up outside and said, "Let's hire a couple of them to take us to Uluwatu." That was wayyy out of my comfort zone, but I've adopted the attitude of "If I don't do it now, when am I going to do it?" So we asked the restaurant owner if we could store our luggage there, hired a couple of young men to take us to Uluwatu and off we went on the back of their motorbikes. Regret it? Absolutely not! It was one of the best experiences of my life.

I love crossword puzzles. One of the main reasons I enjoy them so much is that some answers force me to think differently. Last Sunday, I was doing one and could not come up with a three-letter word for "before VW." I would bet that most of you would think as I did, what type of van, etc., was before the Volkswagen? I handed my husband the puzzle and asked him if he could fill in some of the blanks that I'd been unable to. A little while later he told me he couldn't think of what would be before VW. It came to me in a flash -- STU -- the letters of the alphabet that are before VW. Now that is definitely thinking out of the box! And it was the correct answer.

Old thinking ways of thinking may help us stay in our comfort zone, but it is probably causing us to miss a lot of wonderful experiences. When my husband was very active in politics, we entertained a lot. I remember a reception we had at our home. One of the things I'd made was chocolate brownies with scattered bacon bits on top of the frosting. A woman came up to me and asked me what the things on the top of the brownies were. I told her they were bacon bits. She was silent for a moment, and then she said, "I've never seen that done. Where did you get the recipe?" I told her I didn't have a recipe, it was just something I'd thought of on my own. She told me that she could only follow recipes and declined to try one of the brownies because it hadn't been made from a recipe. I felt sorry for her, thinking of all she must be missing out on in life. And for the record, the brownies were good!